Student Affairs

Student Affairs announces 2023 Staff Excellence Award winners


Makayla Stark, Casey Ford and Mikayla Morris at the 2023 Student Affairs Winter Social
Makayla Stark, Casey Ford and Mikayla Morris were three of the staff award winners during the 2023 Student Affairs Winter Social.
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Staff from the Division of Student Affairs celebrated inside of Hendrix Student Center during its annual Winter Social on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Chris Miller led a short program that included recognition of 2023 staff excellence award winners.

“I am continually proud of the efforts of our team in Student Affairs,” Miller said. “As we embark on the University’s bold new strategic plan, Clemson Elevate, we are focused on creating and delivering the No. 1 student experience. Our staff does an incredible job of engaging students in their Clemson experience from the moment they first set foot on our campus.”

Five individuals were recognized in conjunction with the division’s strategic priorities: well-being; engaged learning; inclusive excellence; and staff experience.

Makayla Stark received the individual award for well-being. She served the past year as assistant director for the Office of Advocacy and Success before transitioning to a new position with the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement. In her previous role, she coordinated resources and support for more than 1,400 students—helping to create a “culture of CARE” not only in Student Affairs, but across the University.

Kristi Cox received the individual award for engaged learning. She has served as the director of Campus Reservations and Events since March 2023 and in her capacity has proven quickly to be a great leader. Her department employs a large group of students engaged in reservation management, event services and technical support for hundreds of events on main campus each year.

Casey Ford and Mikayla Morris were co-recipients of the individual award for inclusive excellence. Ford supports parents and families in her role with the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement. She oversees planning and execution of Family Weekend each semester, in addition to providing consistent communication through the division’s online family portal to one of Clemson’s most diverse and engaged audiences. Morris supports first-year students of color through the CONNECTIONS program and is an impactful resource for underrepresented populations with her work as an advisor for Brother 2 Brother and Sister 2 Sister.

Kris Hodge received the individual award for staff experience. She and her team in the Office of Community and Ethical Standards (OCES) have worked remotely in preparation for the demolition of Edgar A. Brown Union. Hodge was hired as associate dean of students and director of OCES in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic and has created a cohesive student conduct team despite the challenges of limited physical space.

Campus Recreation Programs and Assessment was named Team of the Year. Led by Robert Taylor, the team is comprised of Sport Programs, Fitness & Wellness and Clemson Outdoor Education and Education (CORE). In 2023, Campus Rec successfully opened the Davidson and Reed family fields at the Snow Complex—adding to Clemson’s intramural sports inventory. The group also expanded its outdoor adventure program while finding new ways to connect with students through the department’s mobile fitness trailer.

The Office of Institutional Excellence, led by Lisa Knox, received the fourth annual Student Affairs Partnership Award. Institutional Excellence works closely with the Student Affairs Leadership Team to ensure alignment of the division’s strategic plan to Clemson Elevate and the pillar of delivering the No. 1 student experience. In 2023, the two collaborated on several important initiatives, including the search for a new chief well-being officer and launch of the Power of the Paw survey to better capture data from the Clemson student experience.